In honor of Pumpkin Spice Appreciation Day this weekend, we are obsessed with all recipes that highlight pumpkin, spice and everything nice (and yummy!).
Before we share our favorite pumpkin recipes, we want to cover the cooking-with-pumpkin basics!
What type of pumpkin should be used for cooking?
Roasted pumpkin seeds are a delicious fall treat no matter the variety of pumpkin, but you wouldn’t want to make a pie with the pumpkin from a standard jack-o-lantern pumpkin! Doing so will result in a watery, gritty, and bland dessert. The best pumpkins for cooking are the heirloom variety. While these misshapen and strangely colored squashes do not appear delicious at first glance, the flesh inside is perfect for baking as it is smooth in texture and has a rich, sweet flavor.
How do I prepare fresh pumpkin for baking?
Although quick to snag off the shelf at your local grocery store, canned pumpkin is never quite as savory as fresh. Luckily, preparing fresh pumpkin to use in your fall cooking and baking is very simple!
- Know your pumpkin – make sure to find a variety appropriate for your task! Sugar pumpkins and heirloom varieties are best for baking! A 5 pound pumpkin will yield approximately 2 cups of puree.
- Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper (oil the baking sheet if you do not have parchment paper available) and set the oven at 400º
- Knock off the stem, and cut the pumpkins in half, from top to bottom. Use a large sharp chef's knife for this - it will be much easier.
- Scoop out all of the seeds, and membranes, but do not remove the flesh.
- Put the seeds in a bowl of cold water if saving them for roasting
- Lay the pumpkin halves, cut side down on the baking sheet
- Roast the pumpkins for 45 minutes to an hour, until a sharp knife meets no resistance at all when poked into the side (once past the skin of course)
- Allow the pumpkins to cool until you can comfortably handle them.
- Scoop out all of the flesh into a large bowl.
- Puree the pumpkin with a food processor, a food mill or immersion blender - you want it very smooth and uniform.
- Place a mesh strainer [a colander will not work, unless it is a fine metal mesh one] over a bowl, and put all of the puree in there to drain. You can weigh it down by placing plastic wrap over the puree, with a plate onto of that, and then some kind of heavy things on top of the plate - cans of beans or some such work.
- Allow to drain for 1 to 2 hours, until no liquid is still dripping out.
- The pumpkin can be used right away or you can store the it in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days, or freeze it to use later on in the year
What if I do not want to use all my pumpkin puree right now?
Once cooked and pureed, pumpkin holds very well for an extended amount of time. In an airtight container or freezer bag, your fresh pumpkin puree will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator or about a year’s time in the freezer. Just remember to account for thawing time in your planning when you are ready to use it later!
Now that we’ve covered the must-knows of baking with pumpkin, here is one of our favorite recipes: a scrumptious Fall Harvest Cake that is perfect for celebrating any fall occasion, or just for treating yourself to a sweet treat on a crisp, autumn day!
Click the link below to view the recipe
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